The 2018/19 NBA season is in full swing, with well over half of the regular season matches already finished. While teams are focused on grabbing as many wins as possible just to finish in the top 8 in their respected conferences time is slowly passing by and before you know it, we are at the end of January, which means the long-awaited February is just around the corner. For some, February represents Valentine’s day, some eagerly await the Super-Bowl while others are already crossing out the dates on calendar getting closer and closer to February 17th, the date of NBA All-Star match which is arguably one of the most entertaining events in the sports world. There we will be watching the best players NBA has to offer all standing on the same court showing off their talents and doing their best to entertain all the viewers from around the globe.
The 2019 NBA All-Star match featuring Team Giannis and Team LeBron will take place on February 17th and will mark the 68th edition of this event. This year, we will watch the best NBA players playing in Charlotte, more specifically at Spectrum Center, the home of Charlotte Hornets, which will also be the 2nd time Charlotte hosts the NBA All-Stars after hosting its first game in 1991 at Charlotte Coliseum.
The players who appear in the All-Star Game are like any year selected through a voting process, with the help of the fans, media and current NBA players. Because this is widely regarded as a match for fans enjoyment and entertainment, they understandably make up 50% of the vote, while the NBA players and media both comprise 25%. The voting might be controversial for some, with the fans holding the most power in their hands, but as said, the NBA All-Stars is made for the fans and ultimately by the fans. At the end of the voting, two guards and 3 frontcourt players who receive the highest vote totals are named the All-Star starters, while NBA coaches select the reserves.
The final missing piece of assembling the NBA All-Star team is the draft, where the 2 captains of each team draft the remaining players from the pool of players voted as starters and reserves. This year as already mentioned, the captains are LeBron James and Giannis Antetokounmpo who will lead their teams; Team LeBron and Team Giannis.
I won’t go into much detail on the rules of NBA All-Star voting. The main thing to know is; fans votes count for 50%, while media and NBA players count 25% each. After all the votes are counted the top 3 frontcourt and top 2 backcourts in the conference are announced the NBA All-Star starters. In the case of a tie in a weighted score, the fan vote is the deciding factor or in other words a tiebreaker. If you’re interested in detailed rules and the full list of players and vote numbers, those can be found at the official NBA website (nba.com)
This year LeBron James (4,620,809) and Giannis Antetokounmpo (4,375,747) received the most fan votes, followed by Kyrie Irving (3,881,766) and Stephen Curry (3,861,038). After all the votes were counted, players were ranked by position (guard – frontcourt) in each conference. The two guards and three frontcourt players with the best score in each conference were named the NBA All-Star Game starters. Now let’s check who are the starters for each team.
LeBron James; LA Lakers
The veteran in NBA All-Star match, LeBron James has been named the NBA All-Star for the 15th time, which is 3rd most among all players in the NBA history, only trailing the legendary Kobe Brian (18 appearances) and no other than Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (19 appearances).
Stephen Curry; Golden State Warriors
He will appear in the NBA All-Stars starting line-up for 6th consecutive times, which is currently his team record. Regarded by many as the greatest shooter in the NBA history, it would be hard to argue this is far from the truth for this 3 times NBA Champion and 2 times NBA MVP.
Kevin Durant; Golden State Warriors
His 10th straight appearance in the All-Star in his 12 seasons and his 8th appearance in the starting line-up, Kevin Durant has become the irreplaceable players in the NBA All-Stars for the last 9 years. Among all his titles and awards, Kevin Durant was the All-Stars MVP in 2012.
Paul George; Oklahoma City Thunder
Won the tiebreaker over Anthony Davis for the starting spot in the Western Conference. While some may disagree with this decision, I believe it’s a fair one, as George has been performing exceptionally this season, setting a new career high for points, rebounds, and steals. This year will be his 6th All-Star appearance.
James Harden; Houston Rockets
It would be hard to imagine the All-Stars without “The Beard” in the starting line-up. Kia NBA MVP of 2017/18 season has appeared in the All-Star game in each of his 7 seasons with the Rockets and rightfully so. In the franchise history, he is only trailing Yao Ming (8 appearances) and Hakeem Olajuwon (12 appearances).
The Western Conference team is looking strong, with all the starters combining 44 appearances in the NBA All-Stars.
Giannis Antetokounmpo; Milwaukee Bucks
Deservingly received the most player votes of both East and the West, which is well deserved. The 2014 rookie of the year and currently regarded as one of the best players in the NBA will appear in the NBA All-Star match for the 3rd consecutive time.
Kawhi Leonard; Toronto Raptors
Much like Giannis Antetokounmpo, this will be Kawhi Leonard’s 3rd appearance in the All-Star game.
Joel Embid; Philadelphia 76ers
A starter for the 2nd consecutive year, Embid was once again voted into the starting line-up. Last year in his All-Star debut, he scored 19 points for Team Curry which was the 2nd most behind DeRozan and Lillard who both scored 21.
Kyrie Irving; Boston Celtics
The 6th appearance 2014 NBA All-Star Game MVP. He has been performing well this season with 10 games with at least 10 assists this season, on the other side he had only 1 last season.
Kemba Walker; Charlotte Hornets
Third appearance and the first time as the starter in the NBA All-Stars game. While he has been performing admirably this season, we cannot forget the 60-point game against 76ers on November 17th. This will be an experience of his life, as he will start the NBA All-Stars at the court, he has been playing on all of his careers, in front of his fans. This surely is something only a few players get to experience in their careers, and an experience not easily forgotten.
When the question who should we see in the reserves comes up, it usually sparks an interesting debate, and while I could go on and say who I want to see in the All-Stars game and my reasons why I feel so, I will rather leave the decision making to NBA coaches, who will reveal their final decision on which 7 players will be the reserves on January 31st. After all that is set and done, the captains will draft the starters in the first round of the draft and reserves in the 2nd round on February 7th.